Featuring perennial powerhouse teams such as Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Ridgefield and Staples, the FCIAC is always recognized as one of the most competitive girls swimming conferences in the state.
Last fall, Trumbull also made quite a splash, joining the impressive list of contenders in the FCIAC and state.
The Eagles earned a breakout 2018 season, placing fourth in the team standings at the CIAC Class LL Championships, finishing eighth at the State Open and taking fifth at the FCIAC finals.
“It was a huge step for our program,” Trumbull coach Bill Strickland said. “How the team jelled together at the end of the season was great to see. We set six school records — five swimming and one diving — and overall, our team did a tremendous job.”
Strickland received 2018 FCIAC Coach of the Year honors for Trumbull’s achievements.
“Cracking the top five at FCIACs, top four at states and top eight at the Open was so difficult, so we hope to keep that momentum we gained last year throughout this season,” Strickland said.
Standout distance swimmer Karina Walsh was one of the key graduates from last season’s squad, but the Eagles return a strong nucleus. Lauren Walsh, a sophomore, should spark the team in various events. She’s coming off a freshman season in which she placed sixth at the State Open Championships in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:05.70) and was second and third in the event at the Class LL and FCIAC finals, respectively.
Walsh also placed eighth at the 2018 State Open in the 200 individual medley (2:07.94), was third in the event at the Class LL competition and was part of the team’s 200 medley relay squad that placed fifth at the Open (1:48.91).
“Lauren is very strong at every stroke,” Strickland said. “Wherever you put her she is going to do well.”
Senior Mia Zajac brings speed to the 50 and 100 freestyle events, where she placed in the top-15 at the State Open last year and was sixth and fourth, respectively at the Class LL finals.
Ashleigh Piro, a senior, was a state qualifier in the 200 IM and butterfly events last season and senior Julia Nevins, who finished in the top-20 at the 2018 State Open in the 100 butterfly, should once again, ignite the squad in the butterfly and backstroke.
Senior Regan Ryan, a top-five finisher in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly at the Class LL finals a year ago, is currently sidelined with a foot injury. Trumbull hopes to see her back in action toward the end of the season.
Katelyn Cerulli, a senior, who placed sixth in the 1-meter diving event at the 2018 Class LL championships, leads the Eagles’ diving squad.
Unlike a lot of teams that’s had four or five meets so far, Trumbull has competed in just one — a loss to defending FCIAC, Class LL and State Open champion Greenwich.
“For the first meet of the season, we did extremely well,” Strickland said. “We put them into some events they don’t normally swim and they responded well. That meet helped us gauge which areas we need to improve on.”
Trumbull’s schedule picks up this week. They visit Norwalk/McMahon Wednesday, before hosting Ludlowe and Darien on Friday and Monday.
“Competing in the FCIAC pumps us up for states and the Open,” Strickland said. “The success we get in the FCIAC boosts our confidence.”
DESYR THRIVING IN DIVING
Westhill/Stamford senior standout Abigail Desyr has started her season strong on the 1-meter diving board, following productive sophomore and junior campaigns.
Desyr posted a first-place finish against Greenwich this past Saturday. Earning a score of 8 and two scores of 7 in her second dive and two scores of 8 in the sixth round, Desyr tallied a first-place total of 261.90 points.
“My back one-and-a-half tuck was the best I had in a long time,” Desyr said. “I didn’t let the competition get to my head. I practiced, I was ready to go and I had a positive mindset, which is important.”
Said Westhill/Stamford coach Rick Lewis: “This was a huge win for her today (Saturday), hopefully she continues to build confidence from that. All three of our divers are learning new dives, so that will pay dividends soon, hopefully.”
As Lewis noted, Westhill/Stamford has only three divers on its roster — Abigail Desyr, her sister Deborah Desyr, a sophomore and sophomore Julia Stefanowicz.
“It may not seem like a lot of divers, but we all work hard and push each other to do our best,” Abigail Desyr said. “We have quality in numbers, over quality.”
Abigail Desyr began swimming at the age of 3, then decided to give diving a try as an 8-year-old. When she joined the Westhill/Stamford team as a freshman she was the lone diver on the squad. The scenario was the same her sophomore year in 2017.
“I dove freshman and sophomore year by myself and I started to lose my passion for it,” Abigail Desyr said. “It was pretty hard.”
That changed once her sister Deborah joined the team in 2018.
“Having my sister on the team was so much better,” Abigail Desyr said. “I started to enjoy it so much more and it brought my motivation back.”
Last fall, Abigail Desyr placed fifth at the FCIAC championship (417 points). A 2018 All-FCIAC Team selection, she was fourth at the Class LL Championships (402.20) and was 13th at the State Open (410.80). She was fourth at the FCIAC and Class LL finals in 2017.
Indeed, Abigail is eagerly anticipating the postseason.
“My goal is to get medals in counties, states and the Open meet,” she said. “I’m working on three new dives and working on them for all three meets. I know hard work brings success.”
SEYMOUR SWIMS PAST OXFORD
After going undefeated in 2017 and 2018, 3-0 Seymour kept its dual meet winning streak intact, recently edging Oxford 80-79.
Freshman Sophia Velleco continued her successful season, winning the 200-yard freestyle (2:00.70) and 100 freestyle (55.59) for Seymour.
Katrine O’Leary, also a freshman, placed first in the 50 freestyle (24.88) and was part of Seymour’s 200 medley relay squad of McKenna Haynes, Olivia Velleco and Grace Parkosewich, which had a first-place finish in 1:59.31.
Haynes, a sophomore, won the 200 individual medley (2:23.16) and the 500 freestyle (5:42.39). Oxford is 1-1 on the season. Seymour, the defending NVL champion, hosted Watertown on Tuesday.
WEST HARTFORD INVITATIONAL
Hall and Conard hosted the West Hartford Invitational Saturday at the Cornerstone Aquatics Center. The meet featured six individual events (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, 100 individual medley) and five relay races.
The meet included Hall, Conard, Amity Regional, Branford, Glastonbury, East Lyme, Pomperaug and Southington.
Junior Aislinn Mitchell of Hall was the high point individual winner. Glastonbury and Amity tied for the high point award in the relay events.
Mitchell won the 100-yard butterfly (58.77 seconds). Katherine O’Connor of Amity was second in 58.92. Amity’s Vera Belfonti, Riya Bonde, Grace Mahon and O’Connor combined to win the 200 butterfly relay (1:52.07). In the 50 freestyle, Riley Kudlac from Glastonbury finished first (25.20). The 200 backstroke relay was won by Glastonbury’s Carleigh Motycka, Katarina Dominquez, Rachel Flaherty and Avery Kudlac (1:55.70).
Hall’s Jacqui Fox took first in the 100 backstroke (1:00.35. Glastonbury was the 200 breaststroke relay winner (Rachel Davis, Marley Milne, Riley Lord, Norell Paluska, 2:18.32). East Lyme’s Nikki Hahn won the 100 breaststroke (1:10.02), while Amity’s Emma Tirolla, Julia Snow, Mahon and O’Connor were first in the 200 freestyle relay (1:44.07).
Riley Kudlac (Glastonbury) was first in the 100 freestyle (55.02) and Amity won the 200 medley relay (2:00.53). Amity’s O’Connor was the 100 IM winner (1:02.61).